Call On God In Crisis (1/25/06)
For the next couple of weeks, I want us to study the Church at Philippi. And this week we will study the beginnings of the Church at Philippi and see how this Church grew. The account of this is in Acts 16. But before we jump into it we must understand the town of Philippi first.
Philippi was in all reality a rich mobile home park. There were very few Jews there. A large group of the population at Philippi was retired military men, who prided themselves in being Roman. These men were wealthy, politically minded, and proud of their nationality and the actual town of Philippi as well. When we go through this account in Acts 16, we will see two different responses to crisis and what occurred because of their responses.
1.) IF WE DO NOT CALL ON GOD IN CRISIS WE EXPERIENCE MORE CRISIS
When Paul and Silas were brought to the authorities a crisis had hit the city and that crisis was laid at the feet of the authorities. And so when this crisis came to the magistrates, they responded with pragmatic worldly wisdom. They did not seek justice in this case, they sought peace. They did not call on God to help them, they relied on themselves. Their decision was to humiliate Paul and Silas by stripping them of their clothes and beating them. And then after that they threw them in prison.
Now this does not seem all that terrible. There were a few troublemakers, so the authorities made an example of them. But because they relied on themselves their problems only increased. They thought they could get rid of their problems themselves, but they couldn't. The next day they went to go get the prisoners out of the jail, and found out that they were both Roman citizens. And these troublemakers were now demanding that they be escorted out of prison by the authorities themselves or they would bring this case to a higher court, because in that time if you were a Roman citizen, you were to have a trial. It was completely unlawful for an authority to just throw into prison whoever he pleased.
APPLICATION: When a crisis falls at our feet, we try to fix it ourselves without God. But when that happens there only seems to be more trouble. Don't just rely on yourselves, you have a God who cares for you and wants to help you.
2.) IF WE CALL ON GOD DURING OUR TIMES OF CRISIS, WE CAN FIND PEACE
When Paul and Silas were thrown into jail their jailer threw them into the darkest, dirtiest, deepest part of the prison, without any real feelings and locked up shop and went home for the night. This man's crisis is not the town being thrown into confusion, in fact that is this man's job. These are just two more troublemakers who are coming to justice. But there is something different about these two men. Even though they are thrown into prison, he notices as he is leaving that they are singing praises to their God.
In the middle of the night the jailer is woken up by an earthquake. Now I have never been through an earthquake, but I imagine waking up to one is quite scary. I mean the ground under your feet is literally moving. Well our jailer friend wakes up and runs to the prison. Now that might seem like an odd reaction to the event, but in that time if any prisoners escaped from the jail then the jailer was personally responsible.
He runs down to the prison, and looks around in a mad dash. The earthquake was so violent that the iron door had swung open. His life flashes before his eyes, because everything in his whole life that he had worked for had slipped out of his hand like grains of sand. So he did the only honorable thing he could have done. He drew his sword and prepared to plunge it in and end his life. But from the darkness of a cell and the darkness in his mind, he heard a voice cry out, "Stop, don't harm yourself, we are all here" (Acts 16:28). Our friend the jailer looked around and realized that the voice was true and he rushed into the cell and fell at the feet of the man whole praised God and said, "Sirs what must I do to be saved?" (Acts 16:30). Relief that the prison was full came over him, but he knew that other crises would come. The jailer was asking how he could have the faith and confidence that these men had to call out to God in their crisis. He wanted to call out to God in this near crisis of his life.
Paul responded to him that he needed to believe in Jesus and he would be saved. Later that very night the jailer was baptized into Christ Jesus and the Bible says that he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God.
APPLICATION: Our friend the jailer learned that he could have peace and joy in the crisis of his life. But he had to call out to God. We need to learn this too. God is the God of peace and comfort. He is our refuge and our strength. When crisis arrives, God will be stronger than it. We need to turn to him for true inner peace and joy, especially in the crisis times of our lives. READ Psalm 23
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